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Ronda Rousey explains how Vince McMahon got her to forgive fans for booing her

During Ronda Rousey’s nearly three year hiatus from WWE, whenever pro wrestling came up in an interview, she had less-than-flattering things to say about fans.

So after the reports came out about her returning to Vince McMahon’s company, one of the big questions was how those fans would react to Rousey — and how Rousey would handle their reaction.

In the latest installment of her “Ronda on the Road” YouTube vlog, the Baddest Woman on the Planet talked about exactly that. It backs up a report that company officials spoke to her about her babyface delivery after her return at Royal Rumble in January, and reveals some of what was said:

“When I walked out of the stadium at WrestleMania, I mean, my knuckle was shattered, so I couldn’t even — I remember I kept trying to put my hand on my hip, I couldn’t even turn my hand to put it on my hip, and people were booing me out of the stadium, and I was just like, ‘Man, fuck these people, I can’t wait to go home.’

“A lot of people forget because they have short memories or whatever, but when I left WWE, I had been getting booed out of the stadium, like, every day for months. I think one of the most uncomfortable, and disingenuous I’ve ever felt was when I had to be a babyface, and the crowd was being hostile towards me, and I couldn’t just tell ‘em exactly what I fucking felt.

”So I was stuck between, do I stay true to myself and tell these people to go fuck themselves, or do I, you know, respect Vince who’s done so much for me, and not go against what he wants me to do? And so when I finally got to turn heel, I loved it because I felt like I kind of finally got to be myself.

“I really missed wrestling — I did. And I wanted to come back. I knew I was coming back to, or I thought I did, to the animosity that I left. So I sort of came out feeling super-defensive from the beginning. At the Rumble, it wasn’t like that, but I just assumed the reaction was from the surprise. So coming out to Raw, and Becky was gonna be there, and I was like, ‘Okay, this is when they’re gonna troll on me the most. This is when they’re going to try and like chant ‘Becky’ every single time I open my mouth. This is the time they’re going to start like screaming the most hurtful things they can. This is when they’re gonna start bringing the posters that say the most hurtful things you can think of.’

“And so I came out anticipating that, and everything went fine. Of course, there was like those three or four guys on the floor that were just like screaming as I was talking, and I really just had to concentrate to block them out.

“I got through it, and came out and [Paul] Heyman was like, ‘You did great, but I’m gonna tell you, he’s gonna tell you one thing. He’s gonna tell you to smile.’ I’m like, okay. So I went to talk to Vince [and] he was like, ‘That was fantastic. Just — you need to smile.’ Now I was telling him like, you know, ‘They were booing me on the way out, of every stadium. And he’s like, Yeah, but they’ve forgiven you for that.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I haven’t forgiven them,’ and he goes, ‘But it’s not about you. It’s about them.’

“It was such a good point, that I’d been thinking about myself and how it relates to myself, and I was forgetting that this is a show about entertaining them. So I’m like, okay. I feel like I got the jitters out. I got my first performance out of the way. My first promo out of the way, so going into SmackDown the next Friday, I’m like, ‘I’m not gonna come out all guarded and defensive. I’m just gonna go out, and actually feel the crowd and let them be a part of it.”

There was definitely a difference between the Ronda of the Jan. 31 Raw and every appearance she’s made since. It’s more than just the smiling.

Rousey’s talked about how personally she takes audience feedback, something that has to make it very difficult to be a public person & an entertainer. Hopefully Vince’s advice sticks when she encounters crowds with more than just “those three or four guys” in them.

This vlog entry shows Ronda meeting a fan backstage who lives with apraxia, the same speech disorder Rousey’s dealt with throughout her life. Thinking about people like that should help her apply McMahon’s approach even when the jeers drown out the cheers.

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